Centre helps protect small business against cyber threats

Tuesday, 07 June, 2022

Centre helps protect small business against cyber threats

A new centre to help NSW small businesses respond to cybersecurity incidents has officially opened at Western Sydney University.

The Western Centre for Cybersecurity Aid & Community Engagement (Western CACE) is providing free services to help small businesses respond to cybersecurity incidents like data breaches, ransomware, email compromise, phishing and payment fraud, and implement appropriate security controls.

Western CACE will also help businesses upskill and prepare for future threats by harnessing the very latest skills, technology and cybercrime psychology through the centre’s resources and training programs.

Based at Western Sydney University’s Parramatta City campus in the heart of the Parramatta CBD, the new centre is led by the university in partnership with leading NSW cybersecurity businesses Emergence, Gridware, DCEncompass and Secolve, as well as the NSW Cybersecurity Innovation Node.

The centre has been established with the help of more than $745,000 in funding from the Australian Government’s Cyber Security Business Connect and Protect Grants Program.

Western Sydney University cybersecurity researcher Professor Alana Maurushat is Director of Western CACE. She said the centre is the first of its kind in the world to be embedded in a university — providing free and accessible services to an economically important region like Greater Western Sydney, which has a large number of small-to-medium businesses.

“Cybersecurity attacks can be very stressful to an organisation resulting in significant economic, emotional and even physical harm. We know cybercrime is becoming increasingly sophisticated — we have seen incidences increase dramatically over the last two years of the pandemic due to the rapid rise in online interactions and remote working and learning,” Maurushat said.

“Tackling cybercrime needs to be a high priority for every business, whether large or small. Our centre is particularly aimed at helping small businesses in western Sydney and across NSW bolster their cybersecurity defences and give them the tools to recognise cyber threats, as well as the advice and support to help them build capacity and resilience in their organisation against future cybercrime.”

Helping on the frontline is the next generation of digital defenders — more than 80 students from the University’s Bachelor of Cybersecurity and Behaviour degree, trained in cybersecurity incident response to work at Western CACE alongside government, industry and certification partners. Students from the School of Law are also assisting in the centre.

“We are extremely proud of our students in the Bachelor of Cybersecurity and Behaviour. Forty six per cent of our students are women, and many students also from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds with capabilities to speak across more than 30 different languages, enabling Western CACE to provide a highly supportive, highly accessible resource to all members of our diverse local communities,” Maurushat said.

“Critically, Western CACE is providing our students with invaluable work integrated learning and real-world career experience, with opportunities to network with industry partners and put their knowledge into practice. Our vision is to see Western CACE expand globally, with free cybersecurity aid centres popping up in universities and training facilities around the world.”

Maurushat said the most important step businesses can take to prevent cybercrime is to implement a cybersecurity incident response plan.

“The team at Western CACE have curated a checklist outlining the most important things you need to know to prevent and respond to threats, with cyber toolkits especially targeted to small family-run enterprises and small-to-medium organisations,” Maurushat said.

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